Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Story of a Bramhin Hindu who accepted the Baha'i Faith


DR. KAUSHAL KISHORE BHARGAVA was born in 1896 into an orthodox Brahmin family in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. At an early age he showed religious inclinations and reputedly ran away from home on several occasions to become a holy man (sadhu). He studied at Agra and then went on to earn his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Allahabad. It was during this time, while still a young man, that he met Professor Pritam Singh who was lecturing at the university. Under the influence of this renowned Bahá’í teacher, he accepted the Bahá’í Faith.

There was at once a change in his life. After obtaining his Master’s degree at the Hindu University of Benares, he received a scholarship from the Indian government to study for his doctorate abroad. This he proceeded to do; but en route to Europe; he stopped off in Haifa and was received by the Master. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá advised him to change his intended field of study, and he became, as a result, a skilled technologist in the sugar industry. On his return to India from the United Kingdom, where he met Shoghi Effendi and Dr. John Esslemont, Dr. Bhargava began his career, and was instrumental in introducing the Bahá’í Faith to many people, including the employees under him and the foreign technologists whom he met in the course of his work. His wife, Shyamdulari Bhargava, a pious and high-minded woman who came from a very orthodox Brahmin family, also became a follower of Bahá’u’lláh.

Dr. Bhargava became a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of India and served on that body for many years. He was fearless in his espousal Of the Bahá’í Cause, even though this brought him the enmity of powerful figures. Yet this audacity also impressed, as in the case of Jawaharlal Nehru. who, having received books and information from Dr. Bhargava, was able to intervene to defend the Bahá’ís from persecution in Kamarhati Village, near Calcutta. Although asked to join the Congress Party, Dr. Bhargava remained staunch in his adherence to Bahá’í principles, and his stand was respected. When his wife died he insisted upon her being accorded Bahá’í burial rites. She was the first Bahá’í from a Hindu background to be buried according to Bahá’í law, though this action caused something of a stir at the time. Occurring as it did at the height of the impassioned riots between Hindus and Muslims, this was a courageous and dangerous act on his part.

Dr. Bhargava was active in speaking tours introducing the Bahá’í Faith to the people of India. He was an excellent speaker who had made a deep study of the Sacred Scripture. He placed great store on prayer; for him the Bahá’í Faith came first and last. On his passing the Universal House of Justice cabled on 20 March 1974:


Friday, November 30, 2018

The concept of ritual uncleanness has been abolished by Baha'u'llah

Social and religious stigma on menstruation must go, it is a form of untouchability: SC

NEW DELHI: Holding that menstrual status of a woman is deeply personal and an intrinsic part of her privacy, the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said that social stigma associated with the natural, biological and physiological process of a woman has no place in a constitutional order and any discrimination on that basis cannot be allowed.

While allowing the entry of women devotees inside Sabarimala temple + , the majority verdict of a five-judge constitution bench said that menstruation stage could not be a ground to create any social and religious barrier to women to enjoy rights to equality and dignity given under the Constitution and to exclude women on that basis was derogatory to an equal citizenship.

"The stigma around menstruation + has been built up around traditional beliefs in the impurity of menstruating women. They have no place in a constitutional order. These beliefs have been used to shackle women, to deny them equal entitlements and subject them to the dictates of a patriarchal order. The menstrual status of a woman cannot be a valid constitutional basis to deny her the dignity of being and the autonomy of personhood... The Constitution must treat it as a feature on the basis of which no exclusion can be practised and no denial can be perpetrated. No body or group can use it as a barrier in a woman's quest for fulfilment, including in her finding solace in the connect with the creator," Justice DY Chandrachud said in his judgement.

Justice Chandrachud said that treating menstruation as polluting or impure and imposing exclusionary disabilities on the basis of menstrual status is against the dignity of women which is guaranteed by the constitution. Appealing for a change of mindset of mensturation, he said practices which legitimise menstrual taboos limit the ability of menstruating women to attain the freedom of movement, the right to education and the right of entry to places of worship and, eventually, their access to the public sphere.

"Irrespective of the status of a woman, menstruation has been equated with impurity, and the idea of impurity is then used to justify their exclusion from key social activities. Our society is governed by the constitution. The values of constitutional morality are a non-derogable entitlement. Notions of purity and pollution, which stigmatise individuals, can have no place in a constitutional regime," he said.

" Prejudice against women based on notions of impurity and pollution associated with menstruation is a symbol of exclusion. The social exclusion of women, based on menstrual status, is but a form of untouchability which is an anathema to constitutional values," Justice Chandrachud said.

Delving on the issue of social stigma on menstruation, Justice RF Nariman said all the older religions speak of the phenomenon of menstruation in women as being impure, forbidding their participation in religious activity but the more recent religions have accepted it as a natural process which can not be ground of discrimination.

"However, in the more recent religions such as Sikhism and the Bahá'í Faith, a more pragmatic view of menstruation is taken, making it clear that no ritualistic impurity is involved. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib deems menstruation as a natural process - free from impurity and essential to procreation. Similarly, in the Bahá'í Faith, the concept of ritual uncleanness has been abolished by Bahá'u'lláh," Justice Nariman said.